A matchup of two of the top pitching prospects in baseball never materialized Thursday night at Las Vegas’ Cashman Field. Tacoma’s scheduled starter, left-hander Danny Hultzen, was a late scratch when he couldn’t get loose.
Instead, 51s pitchers put on a clinic on how not to close a game.
The Rainiers, who trailed by six runs after three innings and by four after eight, rallied for seven runs in the ninth and hung on for a 13-12 victory despite committing five errors.
“We made it tougher than we probably needed to but we got it done in the end,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said. “It was good to see us down the whole game and come back and take one in the ninth.”
Nick Franklin, Eric Thames and Alex Liddi singled to start the ninth for Tacoma before Las Vegas right-hander Greg Peavey issued three straight bases-loaded walks.
The Rainiers (11-10) tied it on a one-out RBI single by Denny Almonte off Armando Rodriguez, who gave up the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Nate Tenbrink added a sacrifice fly and Franklin, who went 5-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI, capped the surge with an RBI single.
The 51s (10-9) answered with two runs in the bottom of the ninth. Josh Satin doubled and Andrew Brown walked with one out and both of them scored on a throwing error by shortstop Leury Bonilla, who replaced Carlos Triunfel after he was hit by a pitch in the sixth. Logan Bawcom retired Jamie Hoffmann on a fly out to deep center field to end the game.
Liddi had three hits and three RBI and Stefen Romero and Triunfel each homered for Tacoma.
Satin had three hits, Omar Quintanilla homered and had three RBI and Brown also drove in three runs for Las Vegas.
Hultzen, ranked the Mariners’ No. 3 prospect by Baseball America and baseball’s No. 18 prospect by mlb.com, was scratched before the game simply as a precaution, Brown said. He’s 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and has 25 strikeouts and six walks in 22† innings.
Andrew Kittredge made a spot start and allowed seven runs on seven hits in three innings.
Las Vegas right-hander Zack Wheeler — rated the Mets’ top prospect by Baseball America and baseball’s No. 8 prospect by mlb.com — started and allowed five runs on six hits in five innings, with seven strikeouts and three walks.’
Wheeler gave up consecutive doubles to Tenbrink and Franklin to start the game, but retired the next eight batters and 12 of 13.
Rainiers right-hander Andrew Carraway (2-1, 4.43 ERA) will take the mouund and face Las Vegas righty Carlos Torres (0-1, 4.61), 7:05 tonight Cashman Field.